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Why do people feel extreme cold at different temperatures compared to other people of same body structure?


I have seen some people shivering in the room temperature of 18°C while others of similar body structure do not feel that much amount of cold.

Of course the clothing of both people is similar if not same.

What can be the cause of such different body reactions?


First of all, this observation is the norm across human perception. While humans react in roughly the same way to similar stimuli (e.g. both a cranberry and a tomato are seen as red, the destruction of tissue is felt as painful), the intensity tends to be different. Also, many stimuli elicit not just a knowledge of the state of the world or one's body, but also a reaction (e.g. shivering when cold, or emotions like fear when physical pain is felt), and these reactions differ between humans too. So, on a very general level, it can be answered with "Because that's how human perception works".

I know that this is a very unsatisfactory answer, so here are some factors off the top of my head. For any given case, one or more of them will cause the difference, and you cannot tell which ones from casual observation.

  • Your observation of "similar clothing" could have been incorrect. For example, an acrylic sweater can look exactly like a sheep wool sweater, but warms much less. Or, slightly shorter sleeves can cause much cooling if they leave the wrist exposed. Layering is also very important, and we generally only notice the uppermost clothing layer.
  • Your observation of "similar body structure" could have been not precise enough. People who have the same appearance can have different amounts and distributions of body fat. Maybe one person is simply better insulated than another one.
  • The state of their circulatory system was different. Vasoconstriction and vasodilation will change the skin temperature, which is sensed by peripheral thermoreceptors.
  • Estrogen is involved in thermal perception. The gender of the person and the current point in the menstrual cycle (or pregnancy) in women will make a difference.
  • The circadian cycle of the two people is probably not perfectly synchronised. Core body temperature varies during the cycle, and thermoperception depends on core body temperature too, not just skin temperature.
  • A different metabolism will cause one person to create more body heat than another
  • Other hormones (beyond estrogen and the ones ruling the circadian cycle and metabolism) probably have an effect on thermoperception, but I can't tell you details here. Temperature is regulated in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, so the hormones from it are likely to have an influence.
  • Normal variations in the two people's neural networks will change the intensity of signal perception. People are born with very unconnected neurons, and build unique connections depending on the environment they encounter while growing up. As a result, each person's brain functions slightly differently when given the same input.
  • Differences in neurotransmitter sensitivity can account for the difference in intensity of perception. People sometimes react differently to the same level of neurotransmitter, or also their brains secrete different amounts of neurotransmitter as a response to the same stimulus. These differences exist on an average level (e.g. glutamate can potentially "do" more for me than for you) but are also affected by drugs and illness.
  • Attention is a major part of perception. The CNS can suppress information from sensory organs at a very low level if the brain is focusing elsewhere.
  • Habit: people can intentionally or unintentionally learn to disregard or misinterpret their body sensations.
  • Psychological stress increases the core body temperature
  • The above reasons all assumed differences between a pair of healthy individuals. Some conditions, for example running a fever, but also neurological disorders anywhere along the complex pathways from sensors to cortex (and the other way round!) or diseases which for some reason alter thermoregulation, will all change the feeling of hot or cold.

This list is probably incomplete. Also, some of the factors I listed will overlap to some extent (e.g. vasodilation is frequently mediated through hormones, and ingrained habits are reflected in neural network connections). But the take away point is: Human perception is an active process, very far removed from simple "reporting" of the state of the environment. It is unrealistic to expect two individuals to have the same perception when exposed to the same stimuli.

For an in-depth description of how thermoperception and thermoregulation work physiologically, see this summarizing paper.


Human body temperature is a measure of the body's ability to keep, generate, or get rid of heat as the need arises. The body is very adept at maintaining temperature within a narrow and safe range, despite occasional huge variations in the room temperature.

But some bodies are more efficient than others. Even bodies of the same height and weight may differ dramatically in the ability to maintain body temperature.

Humans also differ in their preferred room temperature. Some like it warmer, some cooler. This is called thermal comfort. Thermal comfort is not merely physical, but psychological too. In one's choice of preferred temperature, besides psychology, other personal factors come into the equation.

Also the feeling of cold or hot depends upon the DIFFERENCE between one's normal body temperature and outside temperature. And contrary to popular belief, different people have different normal body temperatures. It also depends upon the amount of muscle mass and fat, as fat stores heat (decreasing the normal temperature) while muscles dissipate it (increasing the normal temperature.

Following links might help:

http://www.mnn.com/health/fitness-well-being/stories/why-are-some-people-colder-than-others http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/5711.php


When carpet and a marble floor are at same room temperature, why does carpet feel warmer than a marble floor?

Your sense of an object's temperature actually depends on the direction of heat flow between it and your skin. When heat flows from the object to your hand, for example, the object feels warm to the touch. When heat flows from your hand to the object, it feels cool. You can confirm this by soaking one hand in warm water and the other in cold. Then, put each hand into room temperature water. The warm hand will make you think the water is cool, the cold hand will make you believe the water is warm. Temperature difference between an object and your skin is one condition resulting in heat flow, but there are others. Wind chill factor makes the same air temperature feel different to your skin because convection removes heat more quickly from you skin when air is moving over it. Another factor affecting the flow of heat is conductivity, or the ability of material to transfer heat efficiently. Some materials, like metals and marble, are good conductors and allow heat to flow easily from and to your skin. Other materials (called insulators), like the material in carpeting, are poor conductors and do not allow heat to flow very easily. So even when they are at the same temperature, a cold marble floor transfers heat quickly away from your feet, while a cold carpet prevents that flow from occuring as quickly. That makes the marble "feel" colder.
Answered by: Paul Walorski, B.A., Part-time physics instructor

This is a good question! How observant you are to notice that two objects at the same temperature feel differently. This is something that many people wonder about and few people really understand. The confusion lies mainly in the misunderstanding of the difference between temperature and heat. Let's consider what temperature is. Temperature can be thought of as the average kinetic energy of the particles that make up a substance. The faster these tiny atomic or molecular particles move, the higher the temperature. Let's consider what heat is. Heat is the transfer of energy from one location to another. You can think of heat as a verb. A word that means something is moving. What is moving? Energy is moving. To say the least, this is difficult to imagine! Energy as heat always travels in the same direction: from an object that has more energy as heat to an object that has less energy as heat. In other words, energy as heat will travel from an object with a higher temperature to an object with a lower temperature. When you touch something you have to remember that your finger has some energy as heat. If what you touch has less energy as heat than you it will feel cold. If the object has more energy as heat it will feel hot. The reason for these different feelings is because you are either giving some of your body's energy as heat to the substance, so it feels cold. Or, the object is giving you some of its energy as heat to you so it feels hot. Do you suppose that all objects are able to transfer energy as heat equally? Of course not! You know that metals transfer energy as heat easily. This is why a metal cake pan in the oven cannot be touched with your bare hands. So much energy as heat will be transferred to your hand so quickly that your hand will burn. However, that same hand can be put into the oven where the air is at the same temperature as the metal cake pan and not be burned unless you keep it there a very long time. This is because air does not transfer energy as heat nearly as well as metal does. This works at the other end of the scale. If you touch a piece of metal that is below zero you cannot hold your hand there for long because the metal is taking so much energy as heat from your hand that you soon feel very uncomfortable. However, you can tolerate air that is below zero for a much longer period of time. This is because, again, air does not transfer energy as heat very well. As you might expect, there is a name for this property of matter. It is called 'specific heat'. If you go to your favorite search engine and type this term in to the search box you will find links to tables that will tell you the specific heats of many different substances. If you look for the specific heat of carpet you will see that it is a very low number while the specific heat of marble is much higher. This means that carpet does not transfer energy as heat very well but marble transfers energy as heat very well indeed. Since carpet does not transfer energy as heat very well it will not take very much energy as heat from you when it is at a lower temperature. Thus carpet at a low temperature will not feel very cold. But, marble does transfer energy as heat very well so it will take a lot of energy as heat from you quickly. Thus marble at a low temperature will feel very cold. I hope this answer helps you to understand the very important difference between temperature and heat. If you keep being observant many more questions will come to you about this fascinating area of physics.
Answered by: Tom Young, B.S., Physics teacher at Whitehouse High School

How hotsomethings feels (other than its actual temperature) is dependant on its heat capacity and the rate at which heat is removed from the surface. In this case, therelevantt way of looking at heat capacity is as the energy required to heat up a certain volume of material. Since temperature is just the average kinetic energy of atoms, the heat capacity per unit volume is dependant on the number of atoms per unit volume. Heat conduction is also closely related to the atom number-density of a material, but also depends on the structure and the freedom of the atoms to move within the material and pass on their energy to other atoms. Marble, being a dense solid requires a lot of energy to pass from your body to warm up. It also has a reasonable rate of heat conduction, so the surface remains cold for some time when in contact with your body. Carpet, on the other hand has a very small number density, because most of the volume is occupied by air. It therefore warms up very quickly to the temperature of your skin, at which point it is preventing further heat loss and feels warm. In reality the carpet never reaches the temperature of your skin, because it is constantly being cooled by the replacement of warm air with cool air. So unlike marble, the main cooling process for carpet is not conduction, but convection.
Answered by: Stuart Taylor, Chemistry Graduate Student, Oxford University, UK

'In a way science is a key to the gates of heaven, and the same key opens the gates of hell, and we do not have any instructions as to which is which gate. Shall we throw away the key and never have a way to enter the gates of heaven? Or shall we struggle with the problem of which is the best way to use the key?'


The cutaneous somatosensory system: The key to understanding perception

If you want to understand how humans perceive pain and temperature, you have to understand how the cutaneous sensory receptors work. The most sensitive sensory receptors are located on the skin and are capable of generating pain sensations.

The skin is the biggest organ in the body. Consequently, it’s also the biggest sensory receptor. There are many sensory receptors grouped together in different ways all over the body. They determine sensitivity to stimuli and any of the four sensations that you perceive through the skin: pressure, vibration (touch), pain, and temperature.

Is body hair relevant?

There’s a difference between skin with hair and skin without hair. Most of the skin on your body is covered in hair. The parts of your skin that don’t have hair actually contain many more receptors, which makes it more sensitive.

The most sensitive sensory organs are the lips, the external genitals, and the fingertips. Those parts of your body have the highest density of sensory receptors.

Although no definitive studies prove this to be true, scientists believe that skin with hair is more sensitive to vibration and touch because both make hair move.


Strange Temperatures

1 - Fill one bowl with warm water, one with iced water and one with medium water.

2 - Put one hand into the warm water and one in the iced water for one minute.

3 - Take your hands out of the water and put them both into the medium water. How does the water feel?

So what's going on?

When you put your hands into the medium temperature water, the hand that's been in the cold water feels warmer while the one that was in the warm water feels cold.

Why is this?

It's because your senses are relative. They don't measure an absolute temperature or an absolute brightness of light they make their measurements relative to the things around it. In the case of this experiment, the temperature sensors on your hands measure the temperature of the water relative to the temperature of your hand. If the water is warmer than your hand, it feels warm, and if it is colder than your hand, it feels cold.

Measuring temperature relative to a certain object (such as your hand) is fine if your hand stays at a constant temperature - but it doesn't. If you keep your hand in cold water for a long time, the temperature of your hand starts to drop. This means that the reference point to judge temperature by has changed. Water that once felt cold now feels relatively warm compared to your cold hand.

The opposite happens when you transfer your hand from the hot water into the medium water. Your hand is warm and so the medium water feels relatively cold.

The effect is most obvious in this experiment when you transfer a cold and a hot hand into medium temperature water at the same time: one hand is telling you the water is warm while the other is saying that it's cold, even though the actual temperature of the water is the same throughout!

Your hands give two different answers and your senses are confused!

This effect can be seen in other situations too. When people run a bath they generally tend to stir it with one hand. As a result, people should always test the water with the OTHER hand before getting in. This is because the hand that's been stirring will get used to the high temperature and send messages to the brain saying that the water isn't hot. However, as soon as you jump in with cold feet, the water will feel relatively scalding - so be warned!

Another example is when children are told not to wear their coats indoors because they won't feel the benefit. If you get used to being really hot and snuggly inside a coat in the house, as soon as you go outside you feel cold (like the hot hand going into medium water). However, if you keep your coat on the peg while in the house and only put it on outside, the addition of a warm coat to a warm (rather than hot) body means that the shock of braving a cold winter's day is relatively less.

You can even see this effect with your ears! If you've been in a noisy room and then move into another room that's playing a quiet radio, you can hardly hear it at all. However, if you sit there for five minutes you can start to hear the radio loudly, even though it's still at the same volume.

So the moral of the story is: don't believe everything your senses tell you!


What happens to your body when its gets cold

When HMS Beagle docked at the southern tip of Tierra del Fuego, Charles Darwin remarked on the capacity of the locals to deal with cold:

A woman, who was suckling a recently born child, came one day alongside the vessel and remained there out of mere curiosity, whilst the sleet fell and thawed on her naked bosom, and on the skin of her naked baby.

Japanese pearl divers dive for long periods in cold water without the comfort of wetsuits, whereas many of us whimper as the waters of the relatively warm Pacific or Indian Oceans reach our midriff.

Why is there such variation in our reaction to cold?

The perception of cold begins when nerves in the skin send impulses to the brain about skin temperature. These impulses respond not only to the temperature of the skin, but also to the rate of change in skin temperature.

So we feel much colder jumping into cold water, when skin temperature drops rapidly, than after we have stayed there for a while, when our skin temperature is low but constant.

The burst of nerve impulses generated by falling skin temperature provides early warning of an event likely to cause body core temperature (the temperature of the internal organs) to fall. If unchecked, a fall in body core temperature can result in lethal hypothermia.

The perception of cold begins when nerves in the skin send impulses to the brain about skin temperature. Viewminder/Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND

In healthy people, physiological systems prevent hypothermia from occurring. Impulses from the skin arrive at the hypothalamus, a brain area responsible for controlling the internal environment of the body, which generates instructions in the nervous system that prevent a drop in body core temperature.

Nervous impulses sent to muscles generate extra metabolic heat through shivering. Blood vessels that would otherwise transport warm blood from the internal organs to the cold skin, where the blood would lose heat, constrict, constraining most blood, and its heat, to the internal organs.

Impulses arriving at the cerebral cortex, the part of the brain where reasoning occurs, generate information about how cold we feel. These combine with impulses arriving from the limbic system, responsible for our emotional state, to determine how miserably cold we feel. These feelings motivate us to perform certain behaviours, such as curling up or putting on more clothes, and to complain.

Feeling cold is not the same as being cold. Jumping into a cool swimming pool feels cold, but it can cause body core temperature to rise because of the warm blood retained in the core. Body temperature can stay elevated for up to an hour.

Many of us also have felt cold at the beginning of a fever, when the body core temperature starts to rise. During a fever, the nerve circuits that control body temperature are reset to a higher level, so the body responds as if it is cold until its temperature stabilises around that higher level.

While fever indicates a problem, is there anything wrong with feeling excessively cold rather than actually being cold?

Some of us have the misfortune to suffer from Raynaud’s phenomenon, a condition in which the blood flow is too low to keep the fingers and toes warm.

Feeling excessively cold during pregnancy, when the foetus acts as a small furnace, may be a symptom of low thyroid hormone activity, needing hormone supplementation.

But some healthy people can feel colder than do others in the same environment. Women often report that they feel colder than men in the same environment. This is probably because they have a lower skin temperature, a consequence of more subcutaneous fat and the hormone oestrogen.

Feeling cold is not the same as being cold. Sam Einhorn/Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA

Some of us may inherit feeling excessively cold. A study of twins found that the prevalence of the feeling of cold hands and feet is highly heritable, implying a genetic basis for exaggerated temperature perception.

Some of us also may feel cold simply because of how others close to us look, a phenomenon called “cold contagion”. In one study, healthy volunteers felt colder if they were shown videos of actors pretending to be cold than if the actors pretended to be warm. The temperature of the volunteers’ hands dropped as the blood vessels to their hands constricted, even though they were not in a cold environment.

Most of us who are healthy but claim to feel excessively cold, however, have only ourselves to blame. Unlike Darwin’s Fuegians, we have habituated ourselves to feeling comfortably warm. In the developed world we rarely expose ourselves to cold, letting expensive clothing protect us from outdoor cold and letting power companies warm our living and working spaces.

Allowing power companies to do the work that our metabolism used to do when we experienced cold may actually contribute to obesity. We’d probably all be much better off if we spent more time being cold.

Duncan Mitchell, Honorary Professorial Research Fellow at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg Adjunct Professor in the School of Anatomy, Physiology and Human Biology, University of Western Australia Andrea Fuller, Professor, School of Physiology Director, Brain Function Research Group , University of the Witwatersrand, and Shane Maloney, Professor and Head of School, Anatomy Physiology and Human Biology, University of Western Australia

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.


When air is the same temperature as our body, why do we feel hot?

The human body is like an engine that continuously generates large quantities of heat, and its radiator, so to speak, disperses heat least effectively in hotter climes.

Heat is an unavoidable by-product of the work being done by the tissues of the body. Contracting muscles of the heart, diaphragm and limbs ion pumps that maintain the electrical properties of nerves and biochemical reactions that break down food and synthesize new tissues (to name a few) generate body heat continuously. With this gurgling volcano of active internal organs, the body has a critical need to dissipate heat to the surroundings. It does so by circulating blood near the surface of the skin, by exhaling warm, humidified air, and by evaporating sweat.

These processes function best when ambient temperature is around 70 degrees Fahrenheit, where we feel most comfortable, and they serve to maintain core body temperature around 98 degrees F. But when the surroundings match core body temperature, the dispersal mechanisms are not optimal, so we feel hot, especially when humidity is high. Humidity has a significant effect because water on the body absorbs enormous amounts of heat and then dissipates it by evaporation. Anything that interferes with this vaporization of water (humid air, lack of a breeze, heavy clothing, and so on) makes us feel especially hot and uncomfortable.


Sleep sufficiently!

Sleeping badly will leave you hungrier the next day. Getting insufficient rest leads to a hormone malfunction that causes sudden cravings, while your metabolism rate plummets because you’re eating more. Your leptin level that triggers that full feeling decreases, while the appetite-producing hormones ghrelin and orexin increase. Losing weight therefore means sleeping enough as well.

The top 10 fat fighters


How Do I Stay Hydrated During Cold-Weather Exercise?

Similar to exercise in the heat, cold weather produces certain physiological responses that you will need to take into account to maintain proper hydration.

For instance, you may have heard that cold weather makes you pee more, which makes you more dehydrated. This is partly true, according to John Castellani, a research physiologist at the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine. Through a process called cold-induced diuresis, cold weather can cause the body to perceive it has too much water available. As skin temperatures drop, blood is shifted to the core. “With more blood in the thorax, the heart says, ‘I have too much fluid on board and need to get rid of some of it,’” Castellani told Triathlete Magazine.

As we point out on our blog, this process mutes the thirst response. In other words, when you are cold, you are less likely to feel thirsty when you lose fluids. Once you warm up, your brain can process the state of your extremities, and you realize you are very dehydrated. (This process should sound familiar if you have ever spent several hours in the snow feeling fine, only to return indoors and realize you are ravenous and extremely thirsty.)

Key takeaway: Thirst is a good indicator for low fluid levels in warm temperatures, but you can’t rely on thirst alone when it’s cold outside. You still need to drink water and replenish electrolytes during your winter running.


Why do people feel extreme cold at different temperatures compared to other people of same body structure? - Biology

With 5 p.m. sunsets, erratic temperatures and plenty of snow and ice, winters in Chicago and other northern cities are not for the faint of heart.

And winter is far worse for people with the winter blues and seasonal affective disorder (commonly known as SAD).

Is it the winter blues or SAD?

The winter blues are very common, with many of us experiencing a mood shift during the colder, darker days of winter. You may find yourself feeling more lethargic and down overall. Although you may feel more gloomy than usual, the winter blues typically don't hinder your ability to enjoy life.

But if your winter blues start permeating all aspects of your life — from work to relationships — you may be facing SAD. SAD is a recurrent type of depression associated with the change in seasons. It typically starts in the fall and persists through the winter months.

SAD is more complicated than wanting to hunker down and stay in for the night. It's more than simply cursing another blizzard. And it's more than longing for those first days of spring. Basically, it's much more than the winter blues.

"SAD can be debilitating for some people," says Joyce Corsica, PhD, a clinical psychologist at Rush. "And if you're suffering from it, it's important to get help."

Sun power

The primary culprit of both the winter blues and SAD is the lower level of natural sunlight we are exposed to in the fall and winter. Less natural light can cause the following problems:

  • Dips in serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood
  • Disruptions in circadian rhythms (your body’s internal clock), which help control sleep-wake cycles
  • Alterations in melatonin, a hormone associated with both mood and sleep

"All of these factors can have a direct impact on your mood," says Corsica. "And if you're having mood difficulties, other things can start to fall apart too. You may find less enjoyment in your life, your work performance may suffer and you may start struggling with your relationships. None of this happens in a vacuum."

Here are four ways to get a leg up on the winter blues and SAD:

1. Recognize the signs

The most common symptoms of the winter blues are general sadness and a lack of energy. Other symptoms of the winter blues include the following:

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Feeling less social than usual
  • Difficulty taking initiative

The hallmarks of SAD are sleep too much and overeating. Other common SAD symptoms include the following:

  • Mood that is down or depressed most of the day, nearly every day
  • Loss of interest in activities you typically enjoy
  • Withdrawing and isolating yourself from friends and family
  • Struggling to focus and perform at work or home
  • Feeling constantly fatigued and lethargic
  • Feeling hopeless about the future
  • Having suicidal thoughts

Often people with the winter blues or SAD first [see a doctor] because they aren't feeling well — they're lethargic, easily fatigued and aren't feeling like themselves."

2. Don't ignore your symptoms

If you're experiencing depressive symptoms — even mild ones associated with the winter blues — it is important to talk to your primary care doctor or a psychologist to discuss your options.

Often people with the winter blues or SAD first go to their primary care doctor because they aren't feeling well — they're lethargic, easily fatigued and aren't feeling like themselves. They think there is something wrong physically.

Diagnostic tests, such as a blood test to check your vitamin D levels or a complete blood count, can rule out other causes of these symptoms.

After that, your clinicians will ask you some questions to help determine if you're facing the winter blues or SAD. According to Corsica, the most telling question is: Do your symptoms interfere with your function at home, work and/or relationships?

If they do, it's time to take action.

3. Find a treatment that works for you

While symptoms of the winter blues and, to some extent, symptoms of SAD may dissipate in the spring, you shouldn't suffer silently, says Corsica.

The good news about both the winter blues and SAD is there are a number of evidence-based treatments that can be quite effective in alleviating your symptoms. Discuss the following treatments with your clinician:

  • Sunlight: It's important to get outside whenever the sun is out during these darker days. Take a walk during your lunch break, play with your kids in the snow or try an outdoor winter activity like snowshoeing, skiing or ice-skating. Exposing yourself to natural light will help boost serotonin production and your overall mood.
  • Light therapy: As the current standard of care for SAD, light therapy replicates natural light with light boxes, which use white fluorescent bulbs to mimic sunlight. Light therapy can be particularly helpful in regulating the release of melatonin, which increases when the sun goes down. When undergoing light therapy, you will spend a prescribed amount of time looking at the light box each day. It is important to follow your clinician's orders to ensure you are using an appropriate "dose." This will help the treatment be most effective, while also lowering your risk for side effects (e.g., agitation and headaches).
  • Exercise: Research consistently shows a strong exercise-mental health connection, particularly for those with depression and anxiety. That's why experts often refer to exercise as nature's antidepressant. Exercise can increase serotonin and endorphins, which both affect mood. Moderate exercise of at least 30 minutes most days of the week may provide the biggest mood boost.
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy: A recent study in the American Journal of Psychiatry suggests that cognitive-behavioral therapy can actually be a more effective long-term treatment for SAD than light therapy. While more research is needed in this area, cognitive-behavioral therapy is clinically proven to be extremely beneficial for all types of depression.
  • Medication: If more conservative treatments are not providing adequate relief, you may need antidepressants to regulate the chemical imbalances associated with the winter blues and SAD. While you may be able to taper off the medication as you head into spring, it is important to talk to your prescribing doctor before making any changes to your medication or dosage.

4. Embrace a healthy lifestyle

Maintaining a regular schedule during the winter months can help keep your hormones in balance and regulate your mood — whether you suffer with the winter blues or SAD. Follow these tips to help manage your winter mood:


6 Answers 6

The thermometer measures actual temperature (which is the same for both), while your hand measures the transfer of energy (heat), which is higher for the pot than the air.

Keyword: Thermal Conductivity

The difference is a material-specific parameter called thermal conductivity. If you are in contact with some material (gas, liquid, solid), heat, which is a form of energy, will flow from the medium with higher temperature to the one with low temperature. The rate at which this happens is determined by a parameter called thermal conductivity. Metals are typically good heat conductors, which is why metal appears colder than air, even though the temperature is the same.

Regarding your second question: the thermometer will show the same temperature. The only difference is the time at which thermal equilibrium is achieved, i.e. when the thermometer shows the correct temperature.

Final remark: the rate at which heat (energy) is drained from your body determines whether you perceive a material as cold or not, even if the temperature is the same.

For reference, here is a table which lists thermal conductivities for several materials:

I disagree with the opinion that your skin can measure heat transfer. It can only measure temperature, or to be more precise: the surface temperature of the body you are touching. Now the thermal diffusivity comes into play: When you touch a cold piece of wood (low thermal diffusivity), you transfer heat to the wood, the boundary layer of the wood warms up and feels warm. If, in contrast, you touch a cold block of steel (high thermal diffusivity), you transfer heat as well, but the heat gets transported quickly to the interior of the metal and thus the boundary layer stays cold.

For the same reason, cold water feels colder than cold air.

Indeed, this is due to a higher heat transfer, but the skin doesn't measure it directly.

In essence heat transfer is what you're body is measuring. This video really hits the nail on the head of what you are wondering

Our body senses heat flow from one source to a sink. When the rate of transfer is greater the object feels cooler/hotter. Objects acclimated to their room temperature will feel hotter or colder depending on the thermal conductivity. You can think of temperature as an absolute metric of sorts.

The bigger the temperature difference the hotter or colder an object will feel. But, thermal conductivity serves as a multiplier if you will. A 70 degree object that is sucking the same flux of energy through your fingertips as a 30 degree object would have a higher thermal conductivity. This means delta H would be the same for both objects, even if T is different and delta T.

We don't measure T, or change in T, but only the change in heat.

It is more complicated than the physics of heat transfers. Our tactile sensations are pretty weird.

One example would be that humans can taste "cold" and "cold" affects other tastes.

There is not enough research done regarding the processes. In the multitude of cutaneous receptors, you have several that relate to temperature.

One type of nocireceptors, which are responsible for "dangerous" stimuli, react to temperature extremes.

The two types of thermoreceptors register hot and cold differences. The cold receptors have been shown to react to warming stimuli as well. They are also located deeper into the dermal layer which suggests warming stimuli should be sensed first.

There are also corpuscle bulbs which is believed to be how you taste "cold".

The thermoreceptors on your tongue could also affect how something tastes relative to its temperature. Taste is even more complicated since it involves at least 3 "separate" senses and the fact that some taste chemicals taste differently at different temperatures. Fructose favors the fructopyranose state over the fructofuranose at lower temperatures and it tastes orders sweeter than other common sweeteners.

A thermometer measures temperature through equilibrium.

I noticed people mentioning conductivity which is probably the best way to explain it for a small range of temperature changes. Once you get to larger gradients or extremes, it would depend on several factors including which one triggers first, second, third, at all. Then you have to consider lateral/temporal inhibition, polarization states, graded potentials, NT gates, etc. Finally, you have to consider if any of these signals propagate to the brain and how the brain interprets the whole jumbled mess.